March 10, 2011

Simplicity and Beauty

"Oh, I got plenty o' nuttin'
And nuttin's plenty for me
I got no car, got no mule
I got no misery

De folks wid plenty o' plenty
Got a lock on de door
'Fraid somebody's a-goin' to rob 'em
While dey's out a-makin' more
What for?"

Simplicity is always something I am working on. I always think deeply about it when I am cleaning the house or when things start getting messy. I feel that as Americans we are conditioned to believe that life is a competition and he who dies with the most material possessions "wins."

As the Porgy and Bess song says, many people are focused on working to buy new things but they are also unconscious of the stress that is attached to belongings. Many people focus on saving money to buy an item but never fully think about where they will keep the item and what kind of upkeep it will need.

Not only does "upkeep" entail the normal functionality of the item but also the stress of cleaning it and around it. Anyone who has a lot of small figurines on their mantle will tell you about what a pain it is to dust. It is something a lot of people don't think about but less stuff means less cleaning and less stress. Few people associate new items with more stress; it is hard to see past the shiny newness and the novelty of things in stores.  

Some people cling to things as if the memory will fade if the object is let go. I am continually striving to surround myself with things I use or things that I think are beautiful. The things in my house should represent who I am today and not who I was 10 years ago. I recently removed all of my books from the bookshelves.

My bookshelf had slowly collected books since High School. Unfortunately the shelves were filled quickly and more recently acquired books have been piling up in my room. The books I use a lot now, never made it to the shelf and I would have to dig them up to use them. It created a lot of stress and wasted a lot of time. I looked over my bookshelves and realized that the books on the shelf represented my interests and needs, 5 or 6 years ago. Now that I have the books I use everyday on the shelf and have donated the books I didn't need, I feel like the bookshelves are serving me and my current purposes-- what they should be doing. 

The rest of my belongings should be doing the same. I've been donating things and throwing useless things out and I have to say that I have yet to have needed any of those things as of yet. Having my bedroom and belongings serve my purposes has left me with a lot less stress and more time to do things that I want to do.  Less really is more and the best things in life really are free, who knew? :D

I've been inspired by:
  • A Guy Named Dave: Dave proposed a challenge where he would whittle down his possessions to 100 items. 
  • Minimalist Fun: This guy took Dave's 100 Things Challenge and wrote a lot about it.
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau: A book published in 1854 by Thoreau, a leading transcendentalist writer on his observations on living as a minimalist.    
  • Choosing Voluntary Simplicity: A family dedicated to living debt free, working from home, living "green" and simple living.


  1. A constant challenge, this.
    I'm thinking of something similar, though different, now - something about the life span of things (clothes, namely). I think I'll post it tomorrow...

  2. I hear ya' sister! It's so easy to get pulled into the more more more rat race. We are down sizing our belongings a little more every week and the house is becoming easier and easier to keep clean which it turns gives us more time to "be one with Nature". Beauty surrounds us all the time but not many people take the time to truly experience the Natural world. Your photographs are BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for putting this into a post.

  3. AH should have proof read better!

  4. they are beautiful photos. I used to be a book collector but am still in the process of downsizing. what a painful process!! I wonder how much moolah I'd have if I'd never bought the things I'm now downsizing. And what kind of experiences could I have had instead?!

  5. Funnily, this is exactly the way of thinking I have been pondering over this past day or so.
    I can feel a major clean out coming on. But I think it will be an ongoing process, as I will need to avoid the temptation to bring other items in.
    Your book issue reminds me of my over brimming shelves.
    Thank you for the inspiring words and photos.

  6. If I had only had this wisdom at your age. This is a beautifully written post.

  7. Thank you for sharing that lovely post Stephanie Ann.

  8. I saw your post on Rhonda's blog. I agree completely that items in our homes should be either useful or beautiful. American consumer culture has made peoples lives way more stressful.

  9. I couldn't agree more. It's a physical cleansing that needs to be done just as much as the spiritual one. Good for you.

  10. Hi Stephanie, what you say is so true. When starting my new job I put only the clothes that were suitable for work in a separate wardrobe and that has taken so much stress out of my daily choice & selection. The "less is more" certainly worked for me, but your post reminds me that now I should go back & have a cull of the items that didn't make the cut. It was too hard then, now I know I don't need them anymore. And if I'm honest, there are probably a lot more areas in my life that could do with the same.
    By the way, I've loved having a browse through some of your posts, very refreshing contrast to many of the gardening & simple living blogs I normally read.

  11. Thanks so much! I agree that extra stress really just isn't worth it.

  12. I could not agree more! I've been thinking about this as well and I do think we should value the simple things in life more than the possessions. And thanks for the Porgy and Bess inclusion! I've played that show before and it's one of my favorites. Great post! :)

  13. I hear you on this one, I'm always looking for simplicity. I am actually considering Buddhism. :X


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